Shine of the Silver Star – Low: tours, fitness and travel

Where is he? The woman in carriage 13 monitors her compartment in panic. There is nothing missing: Two seats that can be pushed together for a bed, a small sink, towels, a folding table and even a toilet right next to the seat. But all this the lady has no eyes for. “Where is the USB port?” she shouts into the hallway before the train has even started. James Thomas, the conductor, hurries to help: “Excuse me, madam, this is the Silver Star. Here we can only serve with sockets. ” The woman nods, puts her mobile phone in the socket and draws the curtains. You will not hear anything from her for the next few hours, with the exception of the toilet flush.

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It is Monday morning at 11.10, when the Silver Star leaves.

Train travel in the United States

on the way

Fly to New York City from Frankfurt with Lufthansa (www.lufthansa.com) or Delta (www.delta.com).

Accommodation

In New York, Hotel Moxy NYC Chelsea is just a few minutes walk from Pennsylvania Station, double rooms from 150 euros, www.moxychelsea.com.

train journey

Silver Star tours in private rooms start at € 500 per person on the New York-Miami route. booking e.g. B. at Gleisnost: www.gleisnost.de. If you want to cross the United States, you will find what you are looking for at Lernidee. A 14-day trip from New York to San Francisco costs from EUR 6,970, www.lernidee.de.

activities

Untapped Cities offers tours of New York’s Grand Central Station and Pennsylvania Station. www.unappedcities.com.

Generel information

www.visittheusa.com; www.nycgo.com PRZ

15 carriages, 300 passengers, top speed 200 kilometers per hour. But he still rolls calmly across the tracks starting at: New York Pennsylvania Station. Destination: Florida. The journey to Miami will take more than 32 hours, 2000 kilometers, where not only the landscape and temperatures change rapidly. Factory or farm, rail or gutter – America in all its facets rolls past Silver Star windows.

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“After a trip like this, I always need a day to recover,” says James Thomas. On board, he not only checks tickets, but also stows luggage, serves food, makes beds, cleans toilets, entertains children and points to corona rules. He has been doing this job for ages, and the 1971 number is embroidered on his tie: the basic date of the state railway company Amtrak. “Nothing has really changed since then,” the 57-year-old says. “We now have WiFi and several sockets, but most cars were already there when I started 28 years ago.” Which also leads to a fundamental problem with train travel in the United States: Reality can not always keep up with the romantic idea; some states are not even run by the Amtrak.

After all, there is an improvement in sight: the Biden government’s new infrastructure law allows $ 66 billion to flow into the ailing rail network. Phoenix, Nashville and Las Vegas must be connected by 2035 – metropolises that previously had to do without railroad connections. Joe Biden, who commuted to work by train every day as a senator, is thrilled with the return of the railroad.

at 13. Breakfast time in the dining car. Options include: pasta with meatballs, enchiladas, sautéed salmon with jasmine rice or chicken à la rosa. The beep of the microwave reveals what lies behind the culinary promises: ready meals heated in plastic bowls. One searches in vain for porcelain; instead, there are several trash cans in the dining car. John Toben, a 60-year-old Briton on his way to Florida to launch a space rocket, lifts the lid of his pasta box. He laughs. “In terms of food, it’s not the Orient Express, it’s a plane.”

In Richmond, Virginia, the train stops for ten minutes, a so-called stretch stop, where passengers have to stretch their legs. In fact, almost everyone stays on board. Those who quit do not feel the urge to exercise, but to tobacco. So does John Toben, the Briton. He is plagued by the thought of the upcoming night drive. “I do not mind nausea with me,” worries the 60-year-old. Conductor James promptly invites him into the dining car: “Drink a beer! It helps more than any pill. “

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The next morning everyone wakes up in a new world. Suddenly the streets are filled with palm trees, Spanish moss hanging from the trees. When we stop in Jacksonville, Florida, it’s 15 degrees warmer than New York, even though the sun is just starting to rise. The scent of the south is in the air. “I slept really well,” says John Toben. “When I got up at half past five, another man was already blocking the shower. Fortunately, there was still hot water afterwards. ”

The Silver Star tour is not for everyone. There are those who immediately close their curtains and stare at their phones for twelve hours. And there are others who feel like meeting strangers, mini-showers and microwave noodles. You usually only find out which group you belong to afterwards. Justin Rivers, a 43-year-old New Yorker, puts it succinctly: “Most Americans dream of driving an Amtrak – until they do.”

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